When our children were infants, I recall purchasing a book about development of infants and what to expect at different ages. The statement about the three-year-old stuck with me because it helped me cope with some very difficult persons and situations; namely, the three-year-old tends to overstate his/her importance. The power of the word “no” is now understood by the young toddler and used to its advantage.
During the course of my daily routines, I find myself dealing with some individuals who remain at the infantile level of personality development. I am speaking of those with an inordinate fascination with oneself. Most of us have encountered narcissists in life. So how do we deal with them? Patience and tolerance in large doses are required. We learn to listen. We take turns speaking. Simple things we all learned growing up and in school.
Most situations can be diffused with a healthy dose of humor. Allowing open communication and validating all points of view will advance a culture within a group so that it is not confused and resentful. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves to be mindful of others and respect the fact that some people simply do not know how to move on and will remain at an infantile level.
Trying to apply the principle of taking turns with a group of adults alters the dynamic somewhat. Setting ground rules before meetings is helpful: zero tolerance for swearing, name-calling and blaming. Create ground rules and boundaries to avoid emotional outbursts which can be counter-productive. Value each person, even those with whom you disagree. Listen and take turns speaking. My parents taught us the value of hard work and persevering, no matter what. Learning to be flexible remains an invaluable tool taught me by the Fulbright staff during the years I taught in German schools with different expectations. Lessons learned from my parents are forever with me.
I conclude with a brief poem today:
Me, Myself and I
Ever wonder why
People are that way?
No room for others.
Sad to live like that:
Life is too short.